Effective Planning

Dr. Brian Monger

Requirements of Effective Planning

The major requirements for effective marketing planning can be classified under three broad headings:

  • strategic requirements;
  • managerial requirements; and
  • operational (tactical) requirements

Strategic Requirements

Strategy comes from a Greek word, referring to the office of a general. It refers to the big picture. All too often, even for a big picture, strategic planning is merely a few mind sketches. Yet few of us would be prepared to put money into someone else’s project on the basis that we start our own organisations.

The Stakeholders

In the construction of the business strategy, there are 3 main players;

  • The Organisation.
  • The Market.
  • The Competition.

There are also many subsidiary players involved in the environment who can at times exert undue influence;

  • Suppliers
  • Government Bodies
  • Employees
  • Action Groups
  • The public

The Key Factors of Strategic Planning

There are a number of key factors to consider with any strategic planning. They are focus, goals, competitive advantage, superior performance, sustainable competitive advantage, creativity, flexibility, conceptual simplicity and information.

Focus, refers to concentrating limited resources in the areas that will reap the most rewards.

Goals are what we are aiming to achieve from our efforts and investment. All too often that is simply equated with money and does not consider other, more important factors.

Competitive Advantage refers to the fact that we are operating in a competitive environment. If we are not cognisant of the fact that there are other players competing for the same client’s money that we are, then we are likely to lose.

Superior Performance.  What is important for the organisation, is to plan a position which takes into account all of the players.  Firstly the strategist must achieve superior performance to the competitor.  At the same time the strategy must be in line with the strengths and weaknesses of the organisation and must also meet the needs of the market.   A successful strategy is one which gives a stronger matching of organisational strengths with market needs than that provided by the competition.

Sustainable Competitive Advantage, which suggests that there are many possible good ideas, but which one will remain yours (that the competitors cannot take away) and work for the longest time?

Creativity and Innovation.  What gives a strategy its competitive impact is the creative element and the will of the mind that conceived it to make it work.

Flexibility – The best strategies are flexible and allow for innovation.  They are based on information, which gives us a series of probabilities to work with.  Strategy is vulnerable to reality.  One cannot totally predict the future.  All business decisions are probabilistic.  There is always a (high) chance of the plan failing, even if you have analysed all the input incessantly.

Basic Conceptual Simplicity – Complicated, long range plans rarely work and require constant adaptation and change – usually into another detailed long range plan.  We must remember that any strategic plan is based partly on historic information and partly on future prediction.  Once written it also becomes part of history.

Information – Research. 

Good decisions are based on good information.  The first source of information will be your own records (internal information).  A Marketing Information System (MIS) will provide Market Intelligence, Market Research.

Secondary data and Information can be obtained from sources such as:

•           The Bureau of Statistics

•           Trade associations or chambers of commerce

•           State government departments

•           Banks

•           Libraries

•           The internet

•           Marketing consultants

•           Trade journals and similar publications

•           Organisation directories

•           Daily and weekly press

•           Suppliers

•           Research undertaken/commissioned by you

•           Customers

The Requirements for Effective Business Strategy:

1.         Appropriate organisation definition:  “If you don’t know and fully understand your organisation definition and direction, it is highly unlikely you will be able to provide the necessary operational planning and direction to achieve your growth objectives.”

2.         Clear statement of planning premises and assumptions, with particular attention given to expected significant changes in the most critical aspects of a firm’s environments and any constraints on major resource areas.

3.         Clear, readily communicable objectives, which recognise planning premises and assumptions, and corporate and management philosophies and capabilities.

Planning – Managerial Requirements

The major requirements of planning from management are:

1.         Commitment at all levels of management from chief executive down to individual line staff.

2.         Creativity and innovative thinking.

3.         Experience and sound organisation judgment:  planning cannot replace these – it can, and should augment them.

4.         The ability to analyse and synthesise data, information and events.

Operational (tactical) Requirements

Major operational (i.e., administrative and systems) requirements are:

1.         Good information and sound research procedures.

2.         Co-ordination and integration of data, people and resources.

3.         Standardisation and simplification of planning systems, wherever possible.

4.         Clear designation of responsibilities for planning and consequent action points.

Defining the Nature of Your Organisation

You can improve your profits if you understand the specific nature of your organisation.  This knowledge will:

•           Make it easier for you to plan

•           help you identify profitable market niches

•           reduce the time spent researching new product acceptance

•           increase your awareness of what are realistic expectations about the performance of your organisation

•           enable you to spend your dollar more effectively by being more selective in your promotion programs.

The nature of the organisation is determined by:

           The goals and objectives of your organisation

           The products offered

           The market served by the organisation

           Competitive activity

Organisational Mission, Vision and Corporate Values

A statement of what you are in organisation for (Try to avoid the usual platitudes about being customer focused and making a profit and say something actually meaningful and inspirational)

Developing a Mission Statement

An organisation’s mission defines its central purpose, sets forth its core values and

long term goals, and provides guidelines for its future growth.  An effective mission statement helps an organisation
select which markets to focus on identify which customers to seek define new types of value offers (products/services) for development determine what kind of people to recruit decide what type of organization to build set challenging, but realistic long term financial goals

A good mission statement is the credo of the organization’s leaders. If the leaders make decisions on a daily basis that reflect the vision and methods in the mission statement, others will eventually follow.

Mission statements can be brief or long.  The important thing is that they clearly communicate to managers and employees what they should know about the organisation’s future direction.  In preparing a mission statement it is a good idea to begin by reflecting on what the organisation has been in the past and is today, and then think about how it will be different in the future.

Vision Statements

 Vision Statements are often seen as different to Mission statements, although they can in fact be combined.

Vision Statements should be more immediate and inspirational.  The vision statement expresses the desired destination of the organisation within a certain time-frame.

Vision Statements have the potential to be very powerful pieces of communication. A Vision Statement can paint a picture which creates a sense of desire and builds commitment to reaching the vision.

We will continue to strive to make the purchasing and product utilisation experience of our customers an excellent experience by exceeding their current needs and expectations, by providing them with the most reliable and up to date information on products and emerging technologies, and by offering a superior level of customer service {Core Values that the organisation wants to implement in the future}.”

(In defining your mission you might want to consider opportunities available to the organisation in the marketplace.)

Examples Vision Statements:


Henry Jones IXL –I Shall Excel

 Nike – Just Do it!

Westin Hotels – “Year after year, Westin and its people will be regarded as the best and most sought after hotel and resort management group in North America.”

IBM – “Our goal is simply stated. We want to be the best service organization in the world.”

FedEx – “FedEx is committed to our People-Service-Profit Philosophy. We will produce outstanding financial returns by providing totally reliable, competitively superior, global, air-ground transportation of high-priority goods and documents that require rapid, time-certain delivery.”

Corporate Values Statements

Similar to Mission and Vision Statements, Corporate Values Statements provide:

  • a vision for your future,
  • a mission that defines what you are doing,
  • values that shape your actions,
  • strategies that zero in on your key success approaches, and
  • goals and action plans to guide your daily, weekly and monthly actions.

The CSV is a major component of the concept of the Triple Bottom Line, which says the organisation has other goals and responsibilities than just making a profit.

Mission Statements, Vision Statements and Corporate Values Statements are commonly used to:

  • Guide management’s thinking on strategic issues, especially during times of significant change;
  • Help define performance standards;
  • Inspire employees to work more productively by providing focus and common goals;
  • Guide employee decision making;
  • Help establish a framework for ethical behaviour.
  • Enlist external support;
  • Create closer linkages and better communication with customers, suppliers, and alliance partners;
  • Serve as a public relations tool.

Developing and Defining the Values and Vision of Your Organisation

To develop Mission Statements, Vision Statements and Corporate Values Statements, Managers at different levels may write statements for their particular divisions or organisation units.

The development process requires managers to:

  • Clearly identify the corporate culture, values, strategy, and view of the future by interviewing employees, suppliers, and customers;
  • Address the commitment the firm has to its key stakeholders, including customers, employees, shareholders, and communities;
  • Ensure that the objectives are measurable, the approach is actionable, and the vision is achievable;
  • Communicate the message in clear, simple, and precise language;
  • Develop buy-in and support throughout the organization.

These values represent a belief, a mission, or a philosophy that is really meaningful to the organisation.

An example of an organisation value is: “Customer Satisfaction.”  Another example of a value is “Being Ethical and Truthful.”

Every organisation has one or more values, whether they are consciously aware of it or not.  Another way of saying it is that a value is a statement of the organisation’s intention and commitment to achieve a high level of performance on a specific qualitative factor.

Many recent organisation management books and journals, see developing, adopting, and implementing values as perhaps the single key in the success of high growth, high profit companies.

A passion for a value and its implementation into the daily activities of work was identified by many as the single key to their organisation success.

“We recognise that in today’s highly competitive market providing excellent service is not sufficient to satisfy customers and ensure their loyalty. Our goal is to convert the customer’s interaction with our organisation into a thoroughly and unforgettably enjoyable experience.”

Organisational Goals

Goals are the broad, primary quantitative results that management seeks to achieve in the plan.

These goals can include specific financial performance results that you seek to achieve, such as higher revenues or higher profits (e.g. “Increase Sales).  They can also include goals to increase the energy level in the organisation (e.g. “Improve leadership & direction”), and to strengthen any of the five engines (e.g. “Improve Organizational Efficiency” for improving the Organization engine, or “Develop new innovative line of products/services” to improve the Technology engine).

Developing Growth Strategies for Values and Goals

Values and goals tell us what we want to achieve.  Strategies tell us how to achieve them. Develop a series of strategies to implement each of the goals and organisation values you have established.

When you are confident in the strategy that you wish to implement for a goal, you can then consider that strategy an objective (for the goal). Thus for each of your goals you develop strategies, which when you are happy with you call your objectives for the goal.

Organisational Objectives.

When we state a goal in general terms, it may be difficult for people to know when or whether we have achieved it.  Each general goal can be broken down into sub parts and defined in quantitative terms.  These are usually are defined in terms of:

  • a dollar value of money to be raised, earned or spent
  • a percentage improvement on any factor such as closing ratios or customer satisfaction
  • a measure of speed or time for completing a action such as new product launches
  • a specific date by which an important action or result will be achieved

A well-worded objective will be Specific, Measurable, Attainable/Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound (SMART).

Specific: An objective should address a specific target or accomplishment. Measurable: Establish a metric that indicates that an objective has been met. Attainable: If an objective cannot be achieved, then it’s probably a goal. Realistic: Limit objectives to what can realistically be done with available resources. Time-bound: Achieve objectives within a specified time frame.

Objectives written for a goal statement are a deconstruction of goals into a set of necessary and sufficient objective statements. That is, every objective must be accomplished to reach the goal, and no objective is superfluous.

Organisational objectives

A typical set of organisation objectives may include:

•           A return on investment of 20 per cent

•           An increase of 15 per cent in profits after tax

           A current ratio of 2:1 (current assets to current liabilities)

           A ratio of 1:1 of owner’s equity to borrowed funds

           Earnings per share of 25 per cent

Divisional objectives

Departmental objectives must be consistent with overall organisation goals and objectives

Dr Brian Monger is Executive Director of MAANZ International and an internationally known consultant with over 45 years of experience assisting both large and small companies with their projects.  He is a specialist in negotiation and behaviour He is also a highly effective and experienced trainer and educator

Did you find this article useful?  Please let us know

These articles are usually taken from notes from a MAANZ course.  If you are interested in obtaining the full set of notes (and a PowerPoint presentation) please contact us – info@marketing.org.au

Also check out other articles on http://smartamarketing2.wordpress.com

MAANZ International website http://www.marketing.org.au

Smartamarketing Slideshare (http://www.slideshare.net/bmonger)

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